Hill gives up four runs in rehab start

May 5th, 2017
"[The finger] feels great," said Rich Hill, who signed a three-year, $48 million contract over the offseason. (AP)Mark J. Terrill/AP

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Left-hander Rich Hill was scheduled to throw 60 pitches and up to four innings on Thursday in a rehab start for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Class A Advanced California League affiliate of the Dodgers. He lasted only two-thirds of an inning but refused to call the outing a setback.

Hill gave up four earned runs on three hits in his brief tenure against the Inland Empire 66ers, the California League affiliate of the Angels. Although those numbers might not look impressive, his left middle finger -- where a blister was raised during his two Major League starts -- felt fine.

"[The finger] feels great," said Hill, who signed a three-year, $48 million contract over the offseason. "I can feel it when it would start to bubble, and this time it didn't."

Hill threw 29 pitches on Thursday and recorded two strikeouts. He said that about half the pitches he threw were curveballs, which were fairly sharp.

Inland Empire catcher Taylor Ward hit the hardest ball of the night off Hill, a double on one bounce. Ward put up a good battle, fouling off two off-speed pitches before driving a fastball to left.

Hill joined the Dodgers on Aug. 1, 2016, in a trade with Oakland, and is 12-5 with 129 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings.

He won Game 3 of the 2016 National League Championship Series to give the Dodgers a 2-1 series lead, but the Cubs won the next three games to win the NLCS on their way to the World Series crown.

After being removed on Thursday, Hill completed the remainder of his 60 pitches in the bullpen. Could throwing the 60 pitches within a shorter span have been a better test?

"I think it would have been the same either way," Hill said.

Hill went on the 10-day disabled list on April 17 after a three-inning stint against the Padres. It is his second time on the DL this season. He had to leave his first start of the season with a blister, which had troubled him in 2016.

There will probably be another rehab start for Hill, who pitched a simulated game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

"I'd like it to be sooner than five days, but I understand the concerns on the medical side," he said.

The blister problems have brought suggested solutions, including pickle juice, various ointments, vinegars, teas, oils and witch hazel.

"The answer is just time and pitching to callus over the blister," Hill said. "Working with rice helps dry out the blister."